Last week I mentioned that the first manufacturer to produce a million cars
anywhere was Ford in 1922. I asked what was the first British car to sell over
one million units? The answer was the Sir Alec Issigonis’ Morris Minor between
1948-1961. Not the Mini as many of you thought.
So to this week. Do you listen to the radio on the way to work? What was the
first British car to offer such an option? And when?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
More on the Bangkok International Motor
Last week was mainly a run-down on the cheap Chinese offerings, and
they were certainly cheap at under B. 400,000. The interiors were, however, very
nasty. I had gone to the show fully expecting to have put a deposit on one, to
replace the mighty Mira, but I could not see myself driving the plastic
interiors - acres of buff colored plastic.
Several of the exhibitors showed a remarkable lack of marketing of their
products. Parking a few of your vehicles, like on a parking lot, does nothing to
excite the senses and make your cars more desirable. GM had plenty of cars lined
up in rows (but nothing new) and the most exciting thing they could do was to
dress up a Captiva with shiny wheels and bright crystals around the grille.
Perhaps they thought that having presenters with Afro wigs would quicken the
senses. They were wrong.
Across from GM was Mazda, which had some tarted up Mazda3’s and an MX5 on a
stand. They did also have the Sassou concept car which heralded the styling cues
for the Mazda2. They also displayed all the awards they had won, so somebody did
think and try to brighten up their stand. However, I have been told that a
gentleman went there to order an MX5, but gave up when the sales person had no
idea of delivery or color! He then went to the VW stand to ask about the VW
Scirocco (featured last week) and the “sales” person could give no information
of colors or delivery either. He went to BMW and bought a 3-Series. There is a
lesson here for somebody!
Mitsubishi had their new Pajero Sport SUV on display, but some imaginative
comparisons between their product and the Toyota Fortuner might have got them
some more orders.
Ford had the new Focus TDCi. This is a pretty car and with the direct injection
diesel engine will be very economical. Other than that, the stand was cluttered
up with Ford pick-ups which are about as exciting as a cold porridge sandwich.
Report card says: Can do better!
Isuzu has a problem. The demand for pick-ups is falling, while the demand for
passenger cars increases. But Isuzu only has pick-ups. Painting one in shiny
silver isn’t enough to reverse the trend. Price cutting would!
Toyota had many cars on display, including the ‘all-new’ Yaris - with the
all-new front bumper and grille. They had a stand full of ‘information’ girls
who thought that their reason for being was to smile and give pretty V signs for
photographers. It may generate photo traffic, but it doesn’t sell cars, sorry
Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe
While on the ‘all new’, Nissan had the ‘all new’ Teana, which
looks exactly like the old one, other than around the headlights. I think they
did the right thing by hiding it between their other vehicles. Of interest was
the Nissan 370 Z, well displayed on a revolving plinth. Looks great from all
angles. It would have been nice to have a GTR on display, but no joy, though
there was one down in the accessories area. The other noteworthy item at Nissan
was the Frontier pick-ups which were drive away at B. 29,999 and terms on 2.999
Honda did show a couple of their race cars, a Civic and a Jazz, but with Honda
having pulled out of F1 this may not have been the best time to display
corporate motor sport spending. The Insight was nicely presented, but with no
firm pricing and the interest in fuel misers waning, it did not generate much
interest from Joe Public. The new Accord looked stunning in white, and it is
easy to see why they have been selling well.
Mercedes-Benz had the premier launch of the new RHD version of the E-Class
coupe. A very nice looking motor car, but the price tag of nearly 8 million baht
for the AMG version on the stand will frighten away most people. The CLC sports
coupe at half the price looks very good in comparison. The new generation
B-Class 180 Cdi sports tourer at 2.8 million also deserves more than a passing
BMW I mentioned last week, and their stand was so predictable, it looked as if
the same cars were sitting on the same spots as last year. The M1 Hommage was a
huge disappointment. It was a huge whale of a car which did not excite, and
incidentally hidden at the back of the stand. BMW would have done better to
bring it to the front where they had the Z4. It is a more eye-catching vehicle
than the Z, with its size if nothing else.
Lexus was there, and quite frankly, Lexus has lost the plot.
The big LS 460L looks exactly like a BMW Bangle 7-Series side on. The open iS250
coupe has a huge backside on it, complete with another Bangle bustle. Here we
have BMW toning the unloved rump down, and Lexus adopting it. Lexus was a leader
for a short time with the iS250, but no longer.
Yontrakit Corporation displayed Naza, Kia, Citroen and Audi, but were in one of
the subsidiary tents, sharing space with motorcycles, boats and a handful of
vintage cars. The traffic past their stand would have been much more if they had
secured space in the main exhibition hall. The Audi Q5 is quite a motor car, and
at 3.49 million baht should be considered by anyone interested in the luxury SUV
end of the market.